Insane !!

Many years ago I met a bunch of people who were constantly using the word ‘insane’ in their conversations and I was so confused. ‘Insane’ means mentally ill – doesn’t it? So why are these people saying something or someone one or a party was mentally ill? I just didn’t get it. I guess it was one of those words like awesome which until you use it regularly you don’t really understand whether it’s meant to be good or not. In this case of course it was being used to describe a really good situation – so good that it would blow your mind !! 

These past 3 weeks I have experienced ‘insane’. Most people I have knows use it to describe a party or a good night out but I beg to defer. The only time I felt that something has been insane or insanely good has been these workouts called #Functional I have been doing at #TheTribeFitness. Well maybe because I am not strong to start with and that’s why I find them challenging but it’s not only about challenging .. It’s the exhilaration you feel when you compete this workout. Actually there are several others in the class and lot of them stronger than me and I have seen that they all feel the same way so I guess it has nothing to do with whether you are strong enough or not. It tests stamina, strength, endurance, flexibility, form and many other things all at once. Basically it’s absolutely insane. Ever since I started these workouts I feel like I haven’t done anything my whole life !!! Fine when I used to play sports it was remotely good but never as good ..I am feeling muscles that I have never felt before and it feels insanely good ๐Ÿ™‚

May you all experience ‘insane’ workouts ๐Ÿ™‚

The truth of the matter…

…is that I cannot be a full-time mommy! Not my thing! Not only do I not like it but I am pathetic at it. 

Most ‘stay-at-home’ mommies I meet are super moms – they keep their place so perfect and cook these amazing meals ..have the kids classes all lined up and have the most interesting play dates for moms and kids. Omg – it just blows my mind. I think all of that is harder than any of my previous jobs!!! Well, some women ofcourse do it all – work and home but I accepted that’s not me long back. I did think doing the whole full-time mommy thing will be fun now that my daughter is older (3.5yrs) and can interact and engage in more interesting and meaningful play. But….I don’t know…most of the time I figure out what and why while writing my posts so let’s see what the reasons are for not enjoying or rather being able to be a good full-time mommy.

1. Lack of intent in the mornings – I am so used to waking up every morning in a rush with a clear intent for the day. All meetings are lined up well in advance for work and so I used to always know what the plan is for the day which makes getting dressed really easy and also gives a strong purpose to wake up ๐Ÿ˜› I am not a morning person and so I need a reason to wake up and get ready. I have been checking out different workout classes to see what works right after dropping my daughter to school and that would work as a good intent for mornings as well as makes it super easy to plan what to wear ha-ha. I know it sounds stupid – this whole knowing what to wear for the day but I just need to always be dressed for the part – hate being in the wrong attire for the wrong things !! Anyhow so that’s the temporary plan so resolve this issue but not sure if it’s gonna to be sufficient enough purpose to wake up and get dressed for the day!

2. Meaningful vs. random play – I have always been the one who does the puzzles, assembling train tracks, arts and crafts and Lego block with Sana and my husband is one who takes her to the park, running races, and does all sorts of random goofy play with her. It’s always been like that. I read the books to her and he will tell the made-up stories at night (yah-he is a cool dad). So when I was working I would get few hours with her and she would sit and play with me the kind of stuff that we usually do but now that I am with her full time, she expects me to do all the goofy play that her dad does with her as well and I so don’t enjoy it .. Am horrible at it. Before she used to be ok with going to the park with the nanny but now she wants me to go with her..I get so so so bored at parks!! Overall there is less meaningful play happening between us than before and that sucks ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

3. Guilt factor – ok this is there whether you are a full time mommy or not. I mean you would think you would feel more guilty if you were working coz you are away from your kid more but that’s not true at all. In fact now that I am not working in a full time job and one of the main reasons has been to spend more time with Sana I feel even more guilty everytime I plan a lunch or spa or shopping or anything without her unless she is asleep during that time. It’s so counter-intuitive …I used to do lunch/coffee dates with friends all the time when I was working coz I would be at work either way but now if I plan a lunch instead of going to pick her up at 1pm it makes me to feel like a monster!!

4. The need to be productive and efficient – my most favourite days are when I am super productive and efficient. I don’t know how to feel productive as a full-time mommy. I mean you do accomplish a lot in a day when you spend more time with your child- most of all the vocabulary and explanations that they pick up from a parent and the amount they absorb from you is phenomenal and so I should feel more productive. Efficient I would never been because I am only efficient when I have too many things to do in a day. I just procrastinate when I have time and when I don’t I just manage to do be super efficient. So maybe I need to be like those super moms – cook and clean and plan the best birthdays all at once and maybe then I’ll feel productive and efficient as a full-time mommy but otherwise I don’t see any hope. And I know I cannot be a super mom so well I just need to find something else to keep me busy.

Anyhow..I am sure there are a few more reaons for the truth of the matter but for now that’s all I managed to come up with.

Till next time…

Ed Turner

I was watching ‘Castle’ this morning and the accomplice to a murder was ‘Ed Turner’ which was code name of the ‘Returned’..coined by the psychopath killer!! Since all my ‘juice’ these days is coming from the never ending TV serials that I have been watching – it seemed appropriate to use my Return to WordPress with ‘Ed Turner’.

Yes, it may seem like I am wasting my time with these the endless TV serials that I watch..but I don’t think of it like that. I feel books, movies, TV serials (especially period pieces like Downton Abbey) are a great way of learning – about history, culture, geography even how the business of Advertising works (Mad Men) or American politics (The Good Wife, Madam Secretary). These are all interesting topics about which we otherwise know nothing about – definitely nothing from daily news items. Ofcourse there is a lot of fictional romance and drama that’s added into these tales to make it interesting but if you don’t focus only on the drama, suspense and romance and actually pay attention to the story or the period when the story takes place – there is just so much to learn. This is why I love Ken Follet’s ‘The Century Trilogy’ – it moves from WWI to WWII to the Cold War across continents through the fictional lives of a few families so effortlessly using all the facts of history. This is how history should be taught in schools… not through the boring facts alone.

Talking of teaching, I have been teaching a group of kids ‘Digital Design tools’ – everything from MSPaint to PowToon (an animation tool) to MSMovieMaker …even simpler tools like Picassa – which are so essential in today’s world. Not a single photo is not edited, everything is form of a video these days and so if these kids don’t learn to love these tools and break the technology barrier – they are going to be lost in the future world – where the tools used might be different but everything is going to be digital and the focus on designing is going to only increase.

My own interest in learning these new tools to create these awesome animated and/or real films has increased – there is just so much creativity involved in it.

Every time I find something that I think is my thing… in a few years I soon find something else that is my thing…not sure if that’s good or bad but life is too short to not learn new things and work on a new passion.

Birthday Mania

Wow..clearly I had no idea what it is to plan a kids birthday when I decided to throw one for my little ones 3rd birthday. She is old enough to know what she wants, she knows all her classmates now and young enough to not have any favourites and so obviously you end up inviting the whole class. Omg- this is a classic nightmare!!! Ok ok it’s not all that bad but really it’s a lot of work and it’s driving me crazy. I did do her 2nd birthday but that was so easy..her music class teacher came to entertain the kids with all the gear, all the food was home made with some warm pizzas from outside and it was just people we really knew well…so all in all

Here are key things that you have to plan for a kiddie party:

1. Theme – yes, I know..why do you need a theme at all. Why can’t it be a plain simple birthday party?? But for me the theme is the something that your child is crazy about and so you are just trying to give her lots of that..it could even be candy and then the theme would be candy..or the colour pink. Once you have picked that..what’s easy is to decide on decor and activities during the party. In my case my daughter loves the Peppa Pig cartoon like crazy and so that had to be it.

2. Decor – ok I think balloons are a complete waste ..yes kids like them but then they like many other things. At the school where I teach we make everything out of recycled material and so I think that’s a great idea for decor for your birthday parties as well otherwise you end up generating so much of waste especially non-biodegradable. Thanks to Pinterest DIY pics you can make just about anything…newspaper fans instead of balloons, cardboard box lanterns, dolls out of empty water bottles, lots of different stuff with used paper plates and glasses as well as plastic cups…it’s amazing how much you can make and create from these things that you wouldn’t need to buy or spend ridiculous amounts on decor and kids don’t really care as long as it’s colourful.

3. Cake and accompaniments – I use the word accompaniments because along with.l cake you can get cupcakes..so much easier to serve and for kids to eat or Cake pops ..which are yummy. And accept it..birthdays are for sugar high and so don’t go shy on candies and cookies and marshmallows. Kids love it and it’s not everyday that they eat that stuff..I sure hope not. It’s not a birthday without the sugar overload :). So I have learnt the hard way to avoid too much fondant..I know it makes the cake look really good and allows you to go creative with the theme..but it takes yuk and goes for a complete waste. Maybe pick one or two figures/objects that are made in fondant but please please avoid covering the whole cake with it…just plain old icing is yummy. Again for cupcakes..same thing, if you want to go creative..use recycled paper and make toppers on toothpicks but don’t put fondant toppings on them..they just go waste. So a few places for amazing cakes in Bangalore are Lavonne, Infinite, Leela place and the there are several individuals who do an amazing job.

4. Activities – this totally depends on the age group. In fact the selection of venue should be based on the age group and interest in activities. I am not a big fan of keeping kids indoors cooped up and so I like outdoor venues. Then again if the party is for early teens..nothing like booking a movie hall or bowling alley. You just have to again think of what your kid would like. Mine loves to run around and loves water..pool party for 3yr olds was not possible so the next best option was a splash pool. I thought adding some muddy puddles with that would be fun too since that’s what the characters in the peppa pig cartoon do all the time !! It’s important not to over do the activities either..recently for the children’s day fair at our school, some of the mothers did a ‘paint the pot and then pot a plant’ activity and I thought something creative, educative and environmentally friendly is a super activity for kids of all age groups is a brilliant activity.

5. Party favors/Give away presents – last but not the least…this is a big one and the only one you need to plan in advance depending on what you are planning to give. Kids love birthdays because they get a present back ๐Ÿ™‚ Iike to put a lot of thought into this one..age group of course plays in big role in deciding what sort of a give away present you can give. Now after the painting and potting activity..taking that pot home itself is a great give away present but along with that it’s great to give stuff that again is something that’s useful. Any sort of colours..colour pencils, crayons, paints are all great..always. There is never enough of these at home..in case of my daughter’s age group of 3…so is play dough …there is never enough and so giving just tubs of play dough is great. I personally love encouraging reading and so love giving books. It’s kind of my thing so it’s was a no-brainer for me to give Peppa pig books. The more you read yourself, read to your kids and keep books all around you in accessible locations the more you create a culture of reading. Anyhow point being books are always a great give aways..I know kids are not always as thrilled by it as cars and toys but there is never enough books ๐Ÿ™‚ I like to plan in advance and either order in bulk at a store or online and that’s why I said this is the only one that needs to be done well in advance.

Now all of the above is not possible without a list. Soo so important!! Make your list of kids and their ages..don’t give something to a 8yr old that you would to a 3yr old..it’s as good as not giving anything. Don’t be annoying about it but try to get RSVPs so you know how many of what give always you need.

Finally on this long post of birthday mania…make list of to dos and who will be doing what and prep them in advance so that they know what exactly you have planned and want done….especially on that Day, otherwise you will end up running around to do everything from putting music to greeting everyone to trying to manage all the activities and if your kid is young then she will be overwhelmed by everyone and so will want you to be with her as well…so Plan in advance and Delegate with clear instructions ๐Ÿ˜€

Most important..celebrate your child’s birthday only every few years hehe

Yummy scrummy Diwali

It’s amazing to be at home for Diwali. It’s great to be home period. But even better during a festival. Baroda is all lit up and people send gifts and sweets and everyone hugs you wishing you happy Diwali..it’s a lovely time of the year to be at home in Baroda.

Bangalore is also festive during Diwali but since we have been living there not long..we don’t know a whole lot of people and so we don’t really get too many gifts/sweets and/or Diwali party invites yet…nor do we know the neighbours too well to go around wishing and hugging. Which is cool..I don’t mind not being too social during festivals..it’s kind of a relief coz otherwise it gets too hectic and all the Diwali gifting is an animal of its own…will come to that later. But yes, when in Rome…I am enjoying the Diwali social scene in Baroda completely.

Best of all…though I am going to cry later..has been the yummies in my tummy. As usual the names are quite terrifying but these fried and fattening delicacies melt in your mouth. Starting with “fafdas” …Man these deadly “papadam” looking homemade breads (for a lack of a better translation) just melt in your mouth leaving a craving for another one and before you know it, you can finish an entire large box of these. My favourite are the again homemade “ghughras”. Now these things are sweet..not too sweet…just perfect with tea kindof sweet. Ok these look like homemade “kachoris” which is a savoury and have those ear-folds along its edges and are fried…hard and crunchy on the outside and soft and semi sweet on the inside…these are like really good backlavas…melting away…disappearing into your tummy so fast that people who spent hours making them just can’t believe you just finished an entire plate in no time hehe.

The recipes of these Gujarati delicacies that are made during Diwali are based on recipes passed down generations and I am ashamed to admit that I don’t know how to make any of these. I should learn to make along with blogging the recipes for those of you who didn’t have anyone passing down these recipes. In fact so many of these recipe have died with my nani…it totally sucks.

Feeling blessed to be home enjoying some homemade traditional yummies during Diwali.

Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak to you all.

Renew my Affair!!

I need to renew my affair with colours, paints, canvas, turpentine and all things to do with painting.

I miss painting, I do. Not to say I was all that great at it but it sure was a great outlet. A great creative outlet. (some of my old stuff is onย at http://www.flickr.com/photos/shahshaily)

My desk at our workย is next to a window which opens out onto the next door property where they teach arts, music to kids as well as adults and there’s always this beautiful tune being played on the piano ..which floats into my office. So I decided to go check it out today – to see who is playing this tune and if I could learn. And I discovered that they have art classes as well and a lovely small studio space that you can use to paint as well. Yipee – I am super excited. Finding time is going to be tough but first things first – I found a place to renew my affair ๐Ÿ™‚

I used to play the harmonium – very little and had learnt to play the ‘tabla’ as well in my childhood but somehow this part of my life has disappeared. Music or rather playing music is a part that’s disappeared. Art and craft survived the teenage and adolescent years but music didn’t. In fact during college years in Montreal, I continued to somehow find the time and space to paint – but never played any music. I think that has to do with the ease with which you can paint just about anywhere with anything. A friend and I once used ‘used’ candles from all the leftover christmas decorations to paint with wax on wooden slabs – which used to be part of a shoe cabinet I once owned. Wow – even talking about it gives me the goosebumps. Who was that person?? That really creative person?? I had these beautiful colourful curtains in my living room and I had hung them on a rod using even more colourful bangles…it looked lovely – bohemian but lovely. I don’t know what’s happened but I am just not that creative anymore. I somewhere down the road lost the urge to be creative….until now.

I am bored. I am bored at work. I am bored at home. I love my family, don’t get me wrong, and we have a lot of fun together as a family, as a couple … but I am bored. I have friends, lovely friends and I love being with them, again don’t get me wrong…I am also very comfortable with solitude. In fact I love my alone time so it’s not that.ย I try to fill up my alone time – whatever little I get with movies, shows and books – but it doesn’t seem to do it. It doesn’t seem to make up for this growing boredom inside me and I think that’s coz creativity has always, growing up, been such a big part of me that not having that anymore ย – not at work; not at home..is making me feel a little empty. Well, there has been some creativity at home – baking with my almost 3-year old has been fun; making cards with her and all sorts of stuff with play dough etc. has all been fun but not enough.

I didn’t quite understand this before…but I have been thinking and wondering what it is that is missing, I realised that I need to renew my affair with creativity. I need to definitely start painting again and after hearing that beautiful music filtering in from the window; I might give that a shot as well starting today.

Here’s to renewing affairs of all kinds ๐Ÿ™‚

Root cause of Unhappiness!

Ok – so my boss sent me this lovely article on: Love People, Not Pleasure (see below) which talks about how things that make you happy don’t necessarily take care of the factors that make you unhappy and that these are two distinct sides of the same coin…its very very interesting and thought provoking. MUST READ.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/20/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-love-people-not-pleasure.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=OP_LPN_20140720&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1388552400000&bicmet=1420088400000&_r=3

So, as you would have noticed based on my previous article thatย I have been feeling a sense of dissatisfaction. And I have been trying to find reasons for this dissatisfaction by blaming my job, boss, lack of time with my child, achievement in my career, lack of travel around the world etc. etc. But after reading this article I realised that while being able to have a better job/boss or more time with Sana or for travel will definitely make my happier – it may not necessarily take care of the root cause of dissatisfaction and therefore unhappiness.

The article says: “We assume that things we are attracted to will relieve our suffering and raise our happiness.” Which is so true – we usually seek out things that will make us more happy rather than delve into what is making us unhappy and then try to work at negating that aspect.

Further quoting the article which says the same thing:
“More philosophically, the problem stems from dissatisfaction โ€” the sense that nothing has full flavor, and we want more. We canโ€™t quite pin down what it is that we seek. Without a great deal of reflection and spiritual hard work, the likely candidates seem to be material things, physical pleasures or favor among friends and strangers.

We look for these things to fill an inner emptiness. They may bring a brief satisfaction, but it never lasts, and it is never enough. And so we crave more. This paradox has a word in Sanskrit: upadana, which refers to the cycle of craving and grasping.”

And so I would advice myself and others to stop the ‘UPADANA’ and instead seek reflection on the root cause of the dissatisfaction – which requires some work.

The article goes on to giving a mantra “Love people, use things” instead of “Love things, use people.” “The practice that achieves this is charity. Few things are as liberating as giving away to others that which we hold dear.”

Happy Giving Away ALL that you Hold Dear !! ๐Ÿ™‚